It’s official. The state reached an agreement Tuesday with two federally-recognized Indian tribes that allows the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to begin offering keno this year.
As part of the agreement, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes, each will receive 12.5 percent of gross operating revenues. The tribes may also operate keno at their casinos.
“These agreements are the result of productive and cooperative negotiations between the state and the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes and represents the next step forward in bringing Keno to the state,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes stated Tuesday in a press release.
Barnes credited the Connecticut Lottery Corporation and the tribes for working out an agreement that gets keno off the ground less than a year after the bill was passed.
The budget originally estimated the state would receive about $13.6 million in keno revenue its first full year of operation, but recent budget projections from Barnes on Sept. 18 estimated the state wouldn’t be receiving any revenue from keno. It was unclear at the time that the game would be operational.
“The Mohegan Tribal Council feels very strongly in open and productive dialogue between our two governments,” Charles Bunnell, chief of staff for external and governmental affairs for the Mohegan Tribal Council, said. “The recent agreement to allow the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to offer Keno is a perfect example of that communication and our desire to find common ground.”
William L. Satti, director of legislative affairs for the Mashantucket Pequot, stated: “We are pleased to work with the state on issues of mutual interest that ultimately will continue to allow Connecticut and the Tribal Nations’ economies to prosper.”
Keno is a game where a subset of approximately twenty winning numbers are drawn approximately every four minutes from a larger field of eighty numbers, and an eligible player holding a ticket matching the numbers required for a particular spot can redeem their ticket with a licensed lottery retailer.
In 2013, lawmakers adopted keno to close a budget gap but quickly repealed it in 2014 before it could be established.
In April, Connecticut Lottery Corp. President and CEO Anne Noble told a legislative committee that keno would generate $5 million in its first year after startup expenses. However, the amount of revenue the state expects to bring in has varied greatly over the past few months.